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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

Eleventh Seminar on Parliamentary Procedure and Practice

The Eleventh Seminar of the Canadian Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association was held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island from October 26 - 29, 1986.

This year the theme of the seminar was "Ethics in Politics". The first session dealt with some political and legal aspects of conflict of interest. A former Premier of Prince Edward Island, Angus MacLean, provided some thoughts on his experiences as a federal and provincial cabinet minister. Albert Khelfa of the Quebec National Assembly described the role of the jurisconsul, an official appointed by the Legislature to whom members can turn for advice about conflict of interest questions.

The second session considered the question of whether Canadian legislatures should require members who want to change parties to resign from the legislature forcing them to face the electorate again on behalf of their new party. Lloyd Crouse MP and John Carter of the Newfoundland House of Assembly led off discussion on this item.

The final session dealt with lobbying and the question of whether lobbyists should be registered. The leadoff speakers were Dan McKenzie of the House of Commons and Dr. David Carter, Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly.

Some forty legislators from every Canadian jurisdiction except British Columbia and the Northwest Territories attended the seminar. There were also two special guests from the Isle of Man, John Nivison and Robert Quayle.

The Conference was hosted by Speaker Edward Clark of the PEI legislature. The informal atmosphere of the Island, the generous hospitality of Speaker Clark, and the hard work of the organizing committee co-ordinated by Doug Boylan made for a most successful seminar.

Seminar on United States Trade Policy

American trade policy is not developed by any single agency or even by one branch of government. There is interaction between the different agencies and between the administration and the legislative branches in setting priorities, assessing various strategies and enacting legislative measures. With trade negotiations between Canada and the United States one of the most important items on the political agenda, the Canadian Region of CPA sponsored a seminar on United States trade policy with particular emphasis on Canadian-American economic relations.

While the federal government has jurisdiction over international trade, provincial authorities are directly and indirectly involved in many areas and must pay close attention to US trade policy. Eleven provincial legislators from six provinces (Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) attended the three day seminar in Washington in September 1986.

Ambassador Allan Gotlieb and other members of the Canadian Embassy briefed delegates on the relationship between bilateral trade negotiations and other domestic and international forces in American politics. He also discussed the way the free trade issue is perceived on the two sides of the border.

Raymond Ahearn of the Congressional Research Service provided an overview of the role of the Executive and Legislative branches in formulating trade policy. Len Santos, Trade Counsel to the Senate Finance Committee, and Joanna Shelton, who works for the Trade Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, provided insights into the political dynamics of the issue in the American Congress.

William Cavitt, senior policy advisor in the United States Department of Commerce, outlined existing trade legislation and the various legal actions that can be taken under present laws. The role of the State Department in setting policy was discussed by James Medas, Deputy Assistant Secretary and some of his colleagues in the State Department.

A Washington Attorney, Lionel Olmer, pointed out the importance of lobbying in the American political system and gave delegates the benefit of his experience in both the public and private sector. Two representatives of lobby groups, Larry Fox of the National Association of Manufacturers and Robert McNeill of the Emergency Committee for American Trade commented on the work their organizations are doing in this area.

One of the most interesting speakers was William Merkin from the Office of the United States Trade Representative. As one who works closely with the American negotiating team he was both refreshingly candid and understandably evasive about how the United States is approaching the negotiations.

Charles Ervin, Director of Operations for the International Trade Commission, wound up the seminar with a description of the role and responsibilities of this agency and the importance of its studies on trade issues.

Arrangements for the seminar were organized by Barbara Reynolds and Jo Oberstar of the Centre for Legislative Exchange.

New Speaker of the House of Commons

On September 30, 1986, John Fraser was elected Speaker of the House of Commons in a secret ballot by all members.

John Fraser was born in Yokahoma, Japan in 1931. He was raised in Vancouver and attended the University of British Columbia where he graduated with a law degree. First elected to the House of Commons in 1972 for Vancouver South, Mr. Fraser served as Minister of the Environment in the Clark Government of 1979. In 1984 Prime Minister Mulroney named him Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He resigned in 1985 following a controversy over the sale of tainted canned tuna declared unfit for human consumption by departmental inspectors.

Clerk of the Ontario Legislative Assembly

The new Clerk of the Ontario Legislative Assembly is Claude DesRosiers. Mr. DesRosiers was formerly Principal Clerk of the Committees and Private Legislation Directorate of the House of Commons. He was an advisor to the Special Committee on Reform of the House which recommended widespread reforms to the rules in 1985.

In congratulating the new Clerk on his appointment the Government House Leader, Robert Nixon, noted that Mr. DesRosiers had been a school trustee and an alderman in Quebec. "So he has had to face some of the test and tribulations of the democratic process, which most of us here believe is extremely healthy and an excellent background for anyone in a position of responsibility in the democratic process. "

The new Clerk was chosen by a new process whereby candidates were interviewed by the Committee on the Legislature whose report was then transmitted to the Speaker who recommended to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council the appointment of the successful candidate.


Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 9 no 4

Last Updated: 2020-03-03